Friday, August 24, 2018

A collection of herons and egrets at the San Diego River mouth

The San Diego River mouth is certainly an excellent place for close views of herons and egrets. Recently I photographed several species at the San Diego River mouth as accessed from the Robb Athletic Field, in the Ocean Beach neighborhood. Birding site guide here.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron. San Diego, California. August 12, 2018.
There is no biological difference between herons and egrets. Most egrets are white, but some herons are white in immature plumage. Many egrets are smaller than the largest herons, but then, there are several small herons (Green Heron and Least Bittern are two that are found locally). The Snowy Egret is the most common heron locally. All egrets are herons, but not all herons are egrets.

It was overcast when I arrived just after sunrise. The sun broke through about an hour later. One of the first birds I noted was a rather rare Reddish Egret. I had some very distant photos of this species in the past, but most of my shots were from 200-500 feet away and it's stretching it to even call them documentation photos.

Since this bird was close, I walked down to the water's edge so I was as close to egret-eye-level as I could get without getting muddy. Then I sat on a rock and waited while the egret fed and walked closer. I ended up taking about 500 photos of this very cooperative bird during 2 half-hour periods at different vantage points along the dike. As an added bonus, the other egrets and herons came closer, too.

So this post is a sample of all the different heron and egret photos I took (missed Black-crowned Night-Heron and Great Egret that were distant). Tomorrow's post will be the Reddish Egret alone.

Reddish Egret and Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret (left). Snowy Egret (right).
Many of the herons and egrets are stately and patient hunters. They may stand still for minutes as the fish swims closer, then... Wham! Dinner is suddenly stabbed, tossed, and swallowed head first.

Not so the Reddish Egret. It jumps and runs and stabs wildly. It holds its wings open to act as a sun shade.

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret. Typical behavior.
Size of San Diego's herons (length from tip of bill to end of tail):
Great Blue Heron 46"
Great Egret 39"
Reddish Egret 30"
American Bittern 28"
Tricolored Heron 26"
Black-crowned Night-Heron 25"
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 24"
Little Blue Heron 24"
Snowy Egret 24"
Cattle Egret 20"
Green Heron 18"
Least Bittern 13"

Here are some photos from the day.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
Leg and foot of Great Blue Heron
Leg and foot of Great Blue Heron.
Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

No comments:

Post a Comment

I really want to hear from you! I've changed settings (again) in order to try to make commenting easier without opening it up to spammers. Please note, however, that comments to posts older than 14 days will be moderated. Thank you.